Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Double-Takes, Take II

Let's see, more oddments that just kind of creep up on you:
  • When they use the word "Asian" over here, they're not referring to China, Japan, or southeast Asia (Vietnam, etc), the usual referents in the U.S. Instead they seem to mean India and Pakistan, the two Asian nations with whom Britian has had the most extensive political, cultural, and economic exchange.
  • TV programme times don't align. If you look at TV listings in the U.S., shows pretty much line up on the hour and half-hour boundaries, forming neat little columns. They don't do that here -- shows start and end all over the place, creating jagged stairsteps in the listings. You don't much notice sitting on a single channel, but if you try hopping channels, you find there's no way to catch the start of programme "Y" without missing the end of programme "X".
  • Most people know that when they say "chips" over here, they're referring to what Americans call "french fries". However, I hadn't fully grokked the difference between British chips and American fries. Yes, the British versions are thicker and heavier (what we'd call "steak fries"), but that isn't where the difference ends. The surface "skin" of British chips is considerably tougher and chewier than the lightly crisped shell to which Yanks are accustomed. Eating a single British chip can be an absorbing experience, requiring muscle, teeth, and tongue working together in combination; these aren't the throwaway light frills of American fast-food that practically melt in your mouth and serve as little more than a vessel for salt and ketchup. My understanding is that the difference results from being fried twice: once in hot oil to seal the surface, then again at a lower-temperature to thoroughly cook the contents.
  • I already knew that British paper (A4) was slightly longer and narrower than American "letter"-sized. However, I didn't appreciate that their envelopes differed as well. Rather than the elaborate and somewhat exacting tripart fold required to slide a document into an American business envelope, British versions only require a single half-fold; as their paper is longer to start with, this yields an envelope which is considerably taller and more square in aspect ratio, rather like a Hallmark greeting card. This provides comfortably more room to write addresses, and the once-folded contents make for a slimmer package overall.
  • At least some organizations over here (e.g., National Rail) use the abbreviation DMR to stand for December. I don't know if this was due to a conflict with Dec, or what the story is (although I'm sure it adds confusion at their DMR stop). Maybe next fall will find me puzzling over SMR, OTR, and NMR :-)

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